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May We be Forgiven [Hardcover]

A. M. Homes
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
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Book Description

11 Oct 2012
Harry is a Richard Nixon scholar who leads a quiet, regular life; his brother George is a high-flying TV producer, with a murderous temper.They have been uneasy rivals since childhood.Then one day George's loses control so extravagantly that he precipitates Harry into an entirely new life. In May We Be Forgiven, Homes gives us a darkly comic look at 21st century domestic life - at individual lives spiraling out of control, bound together by family and history.The cast of characters experience adultery, accidents, divorce, and death. But this is also a savage and dizzyingly inventive vision of contemporary America, whose dark heart Homes penetrates like no other writer - the strange jargons of its language, its passive aggressive institutions, its inhabitants' desperate craving for intimacy and their pushing it away with litigation, technology, paranoia. At the novel's heart are the spaces in between, where the modern family comes together to re-form itself. May We Be Forgiven explores contemporary orphans losing and finding themselves anew; and it speaks above all to the power of personal transformation - simultaneously terrifying and inspiring.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Publications Ltd (11 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847083242
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847083241
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

AM Homes is a masterful dissector of modern American life. She excels in portraying the minutiae of a dysfunctional family (is there any other kind?), creating characters who are both repellent and magnetic. Her writing exerts a push-pull that feels like being in a hall of mirrors. You want to run away but you find yourself compelled to look at the reflection ... AM Homes can't really be compared to any other writer; no one else is quite as dark and funny and elegant all at the same time. May We Be Forgiven has the narrative intensity of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections and the emotional punch of Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved, all told through the eyes of Larry David. It's the best thing I've read this year. --Observer

A wonderful, wild, heartbreaking, hilarious and astonishing novel ... Homes is a very, very funny writer, brilliant at pinpointing the ridiculous nature of 21st-century living ... This is a piercing, perceptive and deeply funny novel about the nature of life, and about finding your family wherever you can, wherever you get comfort and something approaching love. --Independent on Sunday

She is one of the funniest writers laugh-out-loud funny. The internet dating scenes in her new novel include vengeful children making their own use of their mom s SM handcuffs. She has a deadpan understated humour that builds line by line into comic intent. Her humour is often overlooked by reviewers perhaps because women aren t supposed to be funny. --Jeanette Winterson, Guardian

This novel starts at maximum force - and then it really gets going. I can't remember when I last read a novel of such narrative intensity; an unflinching account of a catastrophic, violent, black comic, transformative year in the history of one broken American family. Flat-out amazing. --Salman Rushie

To call May We Be Forgiven "compelling" would be an understatement; it is a novel as compulsive as its characters. --Financial Times

About the Author

A. M. HOMES is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music for Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers and Jack, two collections of short stories, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects and the highly acclaimed memoir, The Mistress's Daughter, as well as the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and the Castle on the Hill. She is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and writes frequently on arts and culture for numerous magazines and newspapers. She is currently writing for a new major US TV Series. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
87 of 92 people found the following review helpful
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
An outstanding year for new literary fiction culminates for me in a book of quite astonishing bravery, audacity and hilariously grim satire. Can this really be the state of the middle-class nuclear family in the US today? A. M. Homes seems to be saying that it is. This book is a disturbing read; it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But it is definitely for anyone who appreciates razor-sharp writing.

Briefly, it is the story of two brothers: Harold, the narrator, and George, just eleven months younger. George is a thoroughly nasty piece of work and now he has lost his mind. A trail of devastating events leaves mild-mannered, college lecturer Harold to pick up the pieces. Will he be able to cope? Will he ever finish his book on Richard Milhous Nixon? And why, you may ask, is he writing a book about a discredited dead ex-President whom none of his students remember? Factor in a couple of disturbed children (excellent characters, these), internet dating with some fairly grubby sex and a legal system that seems unacquainted with the term `justice', and you have an unflinching indictment of middle-class America in the early years of the 21st century. Read it and weep.

But you will also laugh because it is very funny. Even funnier, perhaps, for Jewish readers. Towards the end of the book there is a noticeable mellowing and when the family travels to a tiny village in South Africa to celebrate Harold's nephew Nate's Bar Mitzvah, Homes reveals that she can do tenderness and optimism too.

What makes A. M. Homes such an interesting writer is that she does not fit neatly into any particular pigeon-hole and she knows how to nail her targets with needle-sharp precision. Devastating.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gave up with 100 pages to go 13 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback
I quite enjoyed Homes last novel; this book will save your life and I found the first 50 pages of this novel equally as interesting. From then on, well I'm still working out how to go about claiming back all those wasted hours I spent ploughing through the rest. There's a plot in there somewhere but boy, does it go on and on and on. Does Home contract state that her first draft is the only draft that will be published because this book could do with losing 200 pages of rambling nothingness. It lacks structure, plot and any strong characterisation. How it won awards I do not know.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too loose and episodic for me 1 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A.M. Homes has two great strengths - a hghly accessible, liquid prose style and an engaging sense of humour. There are passages in this novel that are hilarious. But it's too long and meandering, and much of it is simply incredible, so much so that at times I wondered if it wasn't actually depicting the first person narrator having a nervous breakdown. About 60 per cent of what happens is realistic, the rest is bizarre or surreal. Most of the characters don't have life and those that do, including the narrator, are pretty dull. Too often the plot just becomes disassociated from reality, in social or economic terms.
Homes seems to have more of an audience in the USA than in the UK, given that this is only the second review. Maybe her satire of contemporary life is more appreciated there - though to me her novels are too wacky to be truly effective as satire.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May We Be Forgiven 5 Sep 2013
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Harry and George Silver are brothers. George is brash, arrogant, successful; Harry the quieter and more conventional. This novel takes us throughout a tumultuous year, which begins and ends with a Thanksgiving dinner. At the first, Harry is glad for his quiet life with success businesswoman Claire; as he eyes his brother's children Nathaniel (Nate) and Ashley, glued to their electonic devices, with a cynical eye, while George loudly holds court. Then, George's wife, Jane, brushes against him in the kitchen and his attraction for her ultimately leads to tragedy. This book has an amazingly hard hitting beginning and, apparently, it started life as a short story, which grew into a novel. We have barely begun when there is an accident, an affair, a murder and a whole series of tragic events, which end with Harry responsible for his brother's children. Childless himself, how does an academic - a Nixon scholar, who has spent years writing 'the' book on his hero - relate to two children he barely knows?

Bizarrely, Harry finds himself living in his brother's house; wearing his clothes, walking his (unwilling) dog and taking care of his roses. Along the way, we read of some of the more absurd sides of modern life - of internet relationships, unsettling visits to George at a mental facility, how his mother is creating a new life for herself in a cheeringly progressive facility for the elderly. Of course, the main story revolves around his attempts to make this new life work, how he collapses in stress and illness and regroups, learns how to parent without being a parent and the magic children bring to your life. It is mainly a novel about family. Of how the nuclear family has changed and expanded to mean so much more - as Harry somehow manages to make his next Thanksgiving filled with the people he has grown to care about during an overwhelming year. Clever, sharp, emotional and very funny - a great novel and a worthy winner of the Orange prize.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friggin' fantastic 31 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover
One of the strangest books I've ever read but gripping - my god, the opening chapter had me leaping out of my chair.

The story is there as a reassuring backdrop to be revealed in bush-wacking slugs,but totally unimportant. What gets you is the writing - the acute observance of characters who are anything but normal but who do such normal things that we are left wondering about our own capacity for weird. Fab, fab, tight writing, some laugh out loud stuff, slow reveals that have you reading through the night.

Wonderful. I LOVED it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great satire but overall an uneven novel
I read this for my book group, the book having been chosen because it won the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2013, beating Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel & Barbara Kingsolver amongst... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Marand
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
An unusual but enthralling book,with twists and turns. kept me engrossed as to what catastrophes were going to happen next.
Published 2 days ago by lynne slone
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!
I thought it was hilarious. I had some really embarrassing 'laugh out loud' moments on the train! I think you have to have a certain sense of humour to enjoy it, though i.e. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Nicola Webster
1.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves but perhaps the most boring book ever?
A book of two halves, the first being very exciting and incredible and funny in places, but halfway through it turns into something like a glorified to-do list for perfect... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Cherry Bakewell
3.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Read - men will like it
This was a book club read (all ladies group). I personally felt the female author was trying a bit too hard to be a man and the story dotted around a bit. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Cheryl Crichton
2.0 out of 5 stars did nothing for me
I just found it a little pretentious and boring. And its just so convenient that the main character has so much money that she can take him wherever she wants to, and its never an... Read more
Published 13 days ago by spaceflig
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
Good but not brilliant - 3.5 stars.
So many people told me I HAD to read this book, so I did, and whilst I thought it was well-written and definitely original, it started... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Jodie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read.
Homes delivers a forensic and compellingly rendered observation of modernity, and despite the most apparently disastrous succession of events that the lead character is submitted... Read more
Published 17 days ago by rebecca johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good but not brilliant
This had an excellent start but seemed to lose its cause and focus as it went along - still worth reading because it is life-affirming and original and well-written. Read more
Published 20 days ago by twinmum
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirkily good
A minor act begets a major disaster: Harry's sister-in-law kisses him at Thanksgiving, and pretty soon, or rather after an affair, a murder, and an incarceration, Harry finds... Read more
Published 22 days ago by reader 451
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